We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Lilli Hernandez | Licensed Esthetician

To put it simple, I wanted to be able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted! I have 2 little girls, and trying to find a job that allows me to work, but also have the understanding that I am a mom, and my kids will come before work, it was hard! I thought, you know, one day I will work for myself, and now I do! I am only 2 months into my business, but I am growing, learning, and if I do say so myself, killing it! Read more>>

Kirsta Sendziak | Owner/Director of The School of Classical Ballet

My first job out of college was an office job, and after working it for a couple of weeks, I just knew I needed to run my own business someday. In order to prepare for that, I was hired at a small, locally owned store named Nomad here in Cambridge, MA. Working there gave me experience and first-hand knowledge in running a business so when the opportunity came to take over The School of Classical Ballet in 2009, I felt prepared to do so. Read more>>

Nafeel Ahmed | Entrepreneur & Marketing Expert

I have worked in marketing in branding for more than 10 years, building email lists and learning how social media is the most powerful tool in marketing. I’ve always wanted to open up a spot where people can make great memories and be themselves. A hub place for people of all backgrounds to come together and have an amazing time. Read more>>

Dr. Bessie Stewart-Banks | Entrepreneur/Author/Certified Goal Success Coach

My name is Dr. Bessie Stewart-Banks and I’m the author of inspirational books, In Finding Him I Found Me, Fear the Other F Word, Girlfriend I Forgive You and the upcoming release of Sophie’s Garden. As an entrepreneur at heart, I own a publishing company, Conscious of the Heart Publishing, where I help other authors bring their visions to life. As a Certified Master Life Coach, I inspire women of all ages to be the best version of themselves. Read more>>

Wunnam Ahmed | Entrepreneur

Hi, my name is Wunnam Ahmed, but everybody calls me Maryam. I was born and raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I am a child of immigrants that were born and raised in Ghana. Since I was a little kid, I have always been a hustler. I have sold everything from phone cases to bracelets. In middle school, I sold yarn bracelets to my classmates, inspiring me to start my jewelry business. Read more>>

Kierra Mays | Cake Artist & Baker

Well I knew what I wanted to do with my life by the time I turned 8. I would watch shows on the food network of cooking and baking competitions and one day I saw them make a life size monsters inc cake that was completely edible and I fell in love. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else when I grew up and thats when my journey to creating Keys Cakery began. Read more>>

Camilla Nesbitt | Life + Empowerment Coach

I remember how broken, damaged, and worthless I felt after going through a toxic relationship before meeting my husband. I felt like I was damaged goods. I was jacked up, to say the least. I felt lost and stripped of my identity. The story behind my brand is “My Why” I want to help women get their confidence back and fulfill their God-given purpose to become the best version of themselves. I want them to know their self-worth and that their past mistakes, failures, and setbacks do not define who they are. Read more>>

Dr. Ebonee Gresham | DNP, MSN, RN- CEO, Speaker, Serial Entrepreneur, Mom of 10

The formation of my business was launched after rumors and lies caused me to be terminated from a job during the height of COVID-19, that I had dedicated my life to for years. I worked hard for this employer- extra hours, late nights and missed time with my children that I could never get back. I was disappointed and distraught, BUT GOD! Read more>>

Rachel Pitner | Lindy Hopper, Dancer Instructor, Performer, and Community Organizer

The interesting thing is that I did not start Hot Jam. My partner Christopher Cohen and I took over Hot Jam when the original owners moved out of state and transitioned to the next stage of their lives. Hot Jam was already a weekly swing era dance night that had existed for fourteen years, and Christopher and I had been serving that dance as volunteers and teachers for many years. Read more>>

Dasha Ware | Bestselling Author & Music Executive

I always saw myself growing up to be an entrepreneur. I grew up around entrepreneurship. My mother had always worked for herself. I was brought up believing I was great and destined for greatness and how important it was in shaping what I dreamed of was possible. Read more>>

Marcus Rosendoll | Head of Content

I’ve always had a passion for art and entrepreneurship, which led me to pursue a career in film and media because I wanted to find a job in which I could use my passion for photography and videography. After entering the media industry and moving my way up the corporate ladder I begin to experience all of the “challenges” you can imagine as a young, handsome, and witty black man in an industry dominated by people that don’t look like me. Read more>>

Collin Enstad | Video Producer

I wanted to start my business, Gosto Productions, because what I’ve been doing my whole professional career is the entire process of creating a video from start to finish. I can talk to a client to figure out what they need in their business. Often it is simple as brand awareness. Other times it can be things such as internal employee training. From there I gather the team and things needed for the production, shoot it, and then bring it back to the editing room. Read more>>

Raven Holmes | Therapist, and Travel Agent

When beginning my own business i just thought about my two biggest passions, which are traveling and mental health. I’m a Social Worker/ Therapist and I LOVE to travel to travel! I use my travel outlet as a way to help me reset and unpack as my profession and workload can be very heavy load. So why not intertwine the two a begin my own Travel Agency, hence the name “Melanin Minds Travel”. It was important to share one of my therapeutic outlets with others and make their process as perfect as possible while doing so. Read more>>

Tanisha Okonji | Owner & BCBA

I started Aspire in hopes of bringing quality treatment to my community. My goal is to educate the community about autism and point them in the direction of autism services. There are so many free resources that are out there that can help children with autism and I want to bring those resources to our community. Also, just to educate our community on the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention services. Read more>>

Nikita Gadson | Principal Counsel & Vocal Artist

Starting my own business was prompted by my desire to have more control over my career and my future. I had spent my entire professional career as an employee. Serving in that status leaves you vulnerable to the interests and needs of the employer, which often times results in employees being treated as expendable. Read more>>

Lpretty B | Fashion Designer & Entrepreneur

The thought process behind starting any of my businesses were to find something I enjoyed doing that I was passionate about. I did not want to just start a business based on its financial gain because eventually that would get old. I wanted it to be something I need little to no motivation to get up and do every day. Read more>>

Ryan SCOTT | Owner/ Master Cosmetologist

My thought process was if you weren’t invited into the room, make a room for yourself that’s equally as daunting as the one you wanted to be in. I always thought the salon was a second home for me because of how much time I spend in the salon. I’d always dreamed of owning a salon where the stylist were truely valued and appreciated, since thats what ive always wanted and had never found. Read more>>

Cedrian Ahkumaaru | Visual Media Producer

Well first and foremost I got to a point in life where I really wanted to make a living from doing something that I genuinely enjoy. Since an early age I’ve been tapped in with the creative arts, from drawing and painting, music production to capturing portraits and shooting pictures in motion. I come from a family of musicians on my pops side and My uncle and step-father had those big VHS camcorders from back in the day and once I got my hands on them they stayed on my hip. Read more>>

Charisse Curet | Master Cosmetologist

I was scared. I knew that in this moment, once I go for it all, there’s no turning back. I will be fully responsible for my income and the minimum amount it will take to maintain everyday expenses. I will no longer have the crutch of my full-time job. Not because I would never be able to get the job back, but because I made it a goal not to. Read more>>

Dr. Carla Brandi” Smiley | Entrepreneur and Mobile Audiologist”

My thought process behind starting my own business was due to a culmination of things, but primarily due to pivoting during a pandemic and due to desiring a professional change. For over 16 years, I have adhered to the vision of others’ business model and though I had autonomy, my individual mission and vision was suffocating. Most of my career, I have worked in the public service sector and there was a common thread that I found. Read more>>

Tajah McDonald | Makeup Artist

I always knew that I wasn’t the type of person that could just sit and work for somebody else my whole life. All it took was me finding my passion. My mind runs so crazy at times and I’ve wanted to have just about every occupation under the sun at one point in time but as I got older, a lot of the things I used to do didn’t really interest me anymore. Read more>>

Tawana Devine | Owner and CEO of Devine Dolls Boutique

When my daughter was about two years old, I decided that I wanted to take Devine Dolls seriously, I’ve always known that I was an entrepreneur at heart. I am a single mother and without a lot of money and I knew I needed to make something happen for her. My main goal was to show my daughter that we can follow our dreams no matter how big. All we need is faith and to be willing to put the work in. Read more>>

Keisha Sweat | CEO of KKB productions a luxury car rental services and production

My thought Process for starting my business was to empower and be an example to women and that women can not only be successful but they can dominate in a industry typically ruled by men. Read more>>

Richard Murphy | Booking Agent, Talent Manager, & Tour Manager

in 2005, I had come to a cross road in my career. My contract at the company I was working for had come up for renewal. Many things had changed over the past three years. The atmosphere and culture I had come to love was falling apart due to infighting. In the aftermath, those left standing were absorbed into the entire concerts department. Read more>>

David Hamilton | Entertainer

My thought process behind starting my own business was to be an inspiration to others. Honestly, I spent a lot of time procrastinating on my childhood dreams; from being a fashion designer to being a superstar in soccer, and even music. So when the pandemic hit, I was already transitioning and just felt like the “Time Is Now” to leave a legacy for my family. So my thought process is that the time has already gone for some dreams and things we were scared to achieve. Read more>>

 John Nwankwo | Founder & Fashion. Director at NKASIOBI, Inc

I was in graduate school, studying to receive my Master’s in Fine Art (MFA) in Fashion Merchandising & Marketing. As part of my requirement to receive my degree, I had to create a business idea or concept that was within the guidelines of my graduate program at the Academy of Art University. I already had an idea of staring my own clothing business. Read more>>

Ty$tone | ARTIST

My thought process behind starting my business is that I’m finding new ways to be my own boss and create passive income for myself so that I can have the successful future I envision for myself. I also have a leader mentality so I see it as my own freedom to make money. Read more>>

Juanita Corry-Jackson | Speaker, Consultant, Realtor, Bestselling Author, and Pastor

For me starting my own business had several thoughts that ended with one significant purpose. The idea was, in one way, to claim me back. I know that may sound crazy to some, but starting a business requires a lot of your time in the beginning. However, as women, we spend a lot of time mothering, wifeling, doing house chores, being the van driver, and so much more. Read more>>

Crystal Honcharik | Entrepreneur, Owner of Smooth Body Wax Center

The process of creating Smooth Body Wax Center began with a thought about what I wanted to contribute to the beauty industry and to the world as a whole. It was important to me that Smooth Body be a place where people felt welcomed, were well taken care of and wanted to come back to. Not just our customers but also our employees. So, I was very intentional about all aspects of my company, from the experience that we provide our customers (who we call guests) to the experience of our employees (who we call partners). Read more>>

Larissa Walls | Body Contourist and Choreographer

My thought process for creating Kontour Body Sculpting was for women and men to have an alternative to surgery. Plastic surgery is at an all time high and offering a non surgical service will help women and men achieve body goals a safer way. There is no downtime or pain. Treatments are an hour long and results are immediately. Read more>>